Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Album Review: Loose Ends by Rhys Kirkman (by Emma Prew)

Rhys Kirkman is a Bedfordshire based musician, sometimes solo acoustic and sometimes accompanied by a band. Being Bedfordshire based myself, it probably comes as no great surprise for me to say I discovered Rhys after seeing him play live locally. I liked his songs the first time I saw him play live, I felt suitably familiar with them the second time I saw him play and by the third time I even knew some of the words. So when Loose Ends, a 4 track EP, was released in February I thought it only right that I write a review.

Loose Ends kicks off with My iPhone Is Ruining My Life, one of my favourites from a Rhys Kirkman live set and I think you’ll soon understand why. This song manages to be both amusing and brutally honest as the lyrics talk about how we are all too glued to our mobile phones, technology and social media, etc. that we’ve lost track of what’s really important. The lyrics are simply brilliant – ‘Well since I got my iPhone I haven’t got a life, You’re supposed to use it to share things with your friends, Well since I got my iPhone I haven’t got any friends left, Won’t somebody get me a Nokia 3310.’ I particularly like that last line as it turns out I’m the same age as Rhys Kirkman and I too remember the Nokia 3310 fondly. The second track, Flat Pack Bad Back, is a love song of sorts but it is certainly not your typical soppy or cheesy love song. This is a down to earth song about building flat pack furniture for the one that you love so that you’ll have something new and functional to share in your home together. It’s sweet but also has that element of amusement that the first song had. However the most important message in the song lies towards the end when we realise that it’s not about furniture or other worldly possessions – ‘It was then I realised, That it wouldn’t matter, If we were sat on the floor, Because when I’m with you, Anything will do, And I couldn’t ask for anything more.’ Also, on a personal note, Colin has been known to build flat pack furniture by himself when I’m out so that it is ready for me to see when I get home. 

The most upbeat and carefree song of the EP is this next one, My Friend Jack. Starting out with a rhythmic guitar part that’ll have your head nodding and your toes tapping, Rhys soon launches into a story about his friend, named Jack of course, who has ‘got a proper job’ working in London. And, while Jack’s got a proper job, Rhys remains in his hometown and doesn’t work 9 to 5.‘Yeah my friend Jack’s got a proper job, He works all week with no time off, Down in the city with a suit and tie, But come the weekend he’s mine.’  My Friend Jack is about trying to stay in touch with childhood friends despite the different paths your lives take you on and being nostalgic about your past life together. This is something I’m sure almost everyone reading this can relate to. The last song of Loose Ends is a song that I’m not so familiar with as I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it played live before. Heartbroken is perhaps the slowest and most serious of the four songs on this album. The title might have you thinking this is going to be a song about a break-up or another form of romantic heartbreak but actually Heartbroken is about having your bubble burst when it comes to being young (or not so young as the case may be), smoking and drinking too much and just trying to have fun. ‘Maybe I can’t get away with it, Maybe I’m not that young, Maybe I can’t do the things I did when I was 21, Maybe instead of a couple of pints, I just have one.’ The song also questions whether you can enjoy drinking or smoking or whatever if you then make up for it by doing some exercise. Personally I don’t see exercise as being a punishment for doing ‘bad’ things but then I am an exercise addict! Either way, despite the somewhat sombre nature of this song, Heartbroken is really just about wanting to have fun and doing things that make you happy. Nothing wrong with that.

The versions of songs on Loose Ends are a little different to the purely acoustic versions that I’ve heard live as the EP features piano, drums and some lovely bits of bluesy electric guitar in places. I was expecting this EP to sound more demo-like but it doesn’t at all – the four songs have been refined and polished and all sound great.

Rhys Kirkman had this to say about the release of Loose Ends: ‘The EP is a small selection of acoustic songs from the last four years – I recorded them so that you can have something to listen to while you wait for my full band EP (out in May).’ So I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears peeled for that full band EP – maybe you should too.

Loose Ends is available on iTunes and Spotify (not Bandcamp, sadly) now and you can like Rhys Kirkman over on Facebook for updates on the forthcoming full band EP.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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